Oh Deer!

DSC_4572I’m sure you’ve all read stories about some of the strange happenings in Anchorage Alaska with the wildlife entering the city and creating a bit of a nuisance. From bears to moose, I’ve seen a few discomforting photos of them in residential areas of the city and I think I would likely want to look both ways before going out my front door. I am in total agreement that we must respect the natural habitats of wildlife, but when wildlife begin to find that living in and around the city is more comfortable, then we have a problem.

I visited with a long time resident of Mason City today about the explosion of the deer population these past years. We both agreed that when in our youth, even getting a glimpse of a deer out in the countryside was definitely a rare occurrence. I personally know a handful of people who tried to grow a garden this year and were deeply discouraged due to the rabbits and especially the deer eating their vegetables. I understand that now they are eating hostas and other perennial flowers in flowerbeds around town. Early this Spring I personally watched a female deer running right down the middle of Federal Ave. in the heart of downtown. Every morning I see at least two or three of them on my way to work and wonder how many more are hiding along the railroad right-of-ways and numerous grassy park areas around the city. Believe it or not, about a month ago I was picking up a sign in an established residential area and within a three block area I viewed a red fox darting from front yard to front yard and a female deer having an early morning snack of hosta in yet another front yard several blocks away. To make matters even more alarming, the raccoon and coyote population is on an alarming rise as well. In the Mason City area I have personally seen at least three or four coyotes so far this year. They seem more emboldened and less fearful of residential areas. I’m not sure what to think of these new arrivals as well as how to curtail their increasing population.

As we all know, when natural predators are not present, the would be victims’ population begins to increase unnaturally. I had a condo listed about three years ago that was out near a wildlife area where one of the neighbors found it fun to feed the deer every morning with slices of likely day old bread. I didn’t find anything funny about it because they were simply encouraging an un-natural behavior in the deer. If I recall, I’ll bet I viewed about six or seven deer eating slices of bread one morning. Just like they say at the zoo, “Don’t feed the animals!”

On a positive note, I was at a property today where the back of the residence led to a very secluded creek. If you look closely, you can barely see the form of a lone duck down there at the creekside likely enjoying a contemplative moment in the quiet of the shade.

Joe Chodur

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